Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Polls All Over Map On Susana Approval; We Explain, Plus: Some Tax Talk And The Amazon Grinch 

The polls for Governor Martinez are as jumpy as a six year old waiting to spy Santa Claus drinking his cookies and milk. No sooner had the state GOP come with news that a poll has Susana scoring a 65% approval rating then the Dem leaning PPP survey says, nope, she's only at 50% approval:

Susana Martinez continues to have some of the most impressive approval numbers in the country. We find 50% of voters approving of her to 39% who disapprove. She's only of only 11 Governors PPP has found this year with an approval at 50% or higher, and she's the most popular out of the new Republican Governors elected last fall that we've polled on.

The poll the GOP likes was done by Public Opinion Strategies where Nicole McCleskey, wife of influential Susana political adviser Jay McCleskey, works. It appears there's reason to take both surveys with a grain of salt.

The main point is that Martinez is at or above the critical 50% level. If you split the difference between the two surveys, she scores about a 57% approval rating. In a Democratic state and after one year in office, that's pretty solid. The catch? She has three long years to go and the baggage is starting to pile up. Like this.....


No surprises when it came to final state approval of that controversial 25 year lease for the Downs at ABQ at NM Expo. The state Board of Finance--controlled by the Guv--gave its unanimous approval to the lease, which has GOP politics all over it--as well as some Dem politics, too. See our Tuesday blog for the exclusive Alligator details.


Forgive us for talking taxes while you trim the tree, but we have a legislative session coming up in which the Guv wants to talk tax reform. We agree with her that we should cut the job killing Gross Receipts tax, but we urge replace the revenue with a boost in our ultra-low capital gains tax (the one you pay on stock and bond profits) as well as a boost in the very top state income tax rate that was slashed too much in the boom years. Richard Anklam, president of the NM Tax Research Institute, comes with his reaction:

You mentioned that state capital gains rate was slashed 50%. That’s actually an understatement. We used to tax capital gains at the same rate as ordinary income, which before the cuts, topped out at 8.2%, But when we reduced the top marginal rate to 4.9%, the rate applied to capital gains by default and we cut them both by approximately 40%. We simultaneously phased-in the capital gains deduction to 50%, meaning relative to the old highest marginal rate of 8.2% on capital gains, we’ve reduced it to 2.45% (50% of 4.9%). That’s more like a 70% reduction.

While I personally see some merit in having a personal income tax rate in line with the states around us, our capital gains treatment is more generous by far than our neighbors...I doubt seriously the very low rates we’re looking at now..drive investment behavior much at all.

You’re right about our ever higher Gross Receipts tax rates being bad for business and I’m glad you beat that drum.

Pyramiding of tax and broader taxation of business inputs give our businesses a real competitive disadvantage, and it’s insidious in that much of it is hidden. How can our local businesses pay their workers less, pay cheaper rent, and still not compete with out of state businesses, necessitating state bidding preferences and the like? There’s at least one of your answers. I hate political platitudes but it is a “job killer.” The problem is it’s expensive to fix.

Appreciate that insight, Richard.

Governor Martinez has tried to stop the tax debate dead in its tracks by ruling out any tax increases whatsoever (even if they are revenue neutral) during her four year term. But the shaky economic prospects for this state beg for a vigorous marketplace of ideas--even if the Fourth Floor and the Department of Finance and Administration would like to surround themselves with an ideological moat.


And you have to empathize with New Mexican businesses as they compete for shoppers in this final frenzied week before Christmas:

The New Mexico Green Chamber of Commerce is calling on Amazon.com to drop its PriceCheck application, which rewards customers that go into a local store, scan products they like, walk out and get a $5 discount. The holiday season is a vital season for local businesses. Local retailers employ New Mexicans, build a quality inventory and give back to our community. They should not be undercut by questionable business practices from out-of-state retailers.


A Christmas present for a state senator:

Senator Richard C. Martinez, D-Española, was recently elected first vice president of the National Hispanic Caucus of State Legislators (NHCSL) for a two-year term, Senate President Pro Tempore Timothy Z. Jennings announced.

...The National Hispanic Caucus of State Legislators is an interesting organization that discusses all of the issues that affect Hispanics, including child care, criminal justice, economics and jobs. We then take recommendations to our respective legislatures, which are frequently developed into bills for the legislative session," Martinez said.

This is the home of New Mexico politics.

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